If a guy makes an error that costs his pitcher a perfect game, and the very next hitter laces a single into the outfield, my sense of it is that you can’t really dwell on the error, because, hey, the no-no and perfecto would have been gone a minute later anyway. Then again, I don’t have to fill column inches in New York:
The ground ball didn’t appear to take any sort of bad hop, no matter
what the Yankee players were saying afterward. In truth it was the type
that Jerry Hairston could field without a bobble 100 times out of 100 under ordinary circumstances.
So maybe the importance of the moment got to him. Then again,
Hairston had saved the perfect game only an inning earlier with a
barehand play on a slow roller. In any case, when he missed Adam Jones’ grounder with two outs in the seventh inning, Hairston perhaps changed the course of history, and Andy Pettitte‘s karma as well.
There’s some sort of third order story like this coming out of every Yankees’ game. We pay attention to the sensationalism surrounding A-Rod and all of that, but I think that this is the kind of scrutiny — 800 words devoted to someone’s relatively meaningless error — that people are really talking about when they talk about the pressure of New York.
This one story? No big deal. 160 of them? Man, that has to get old.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.